"The picture of little T.C. in a prospect of flowers": Marvell's portrait of tender conscience.
Marvell often explored the relationship between aesthetic delicacy or tenderness and a spiritual ideal, in, for example, "On a Drop of Dew," "The Coronet," "The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn," "Clorinda and Damon," "Bermudas," and the nun sequence in "Upon Appleton House." There are other moments of supra-delicacy in Marvell's poetry where the categories of the aesthetic and the tender or delicate seem to rise up and become thematically important, as in the moment of Charles's death in the Horatian Ode. There is one poem, however, that appears to be wholly set inside the Petrarchan locale and that critics have consistently remarked on as a rendering of particular tenderness and delicacy: "The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers." (1) By beginning with a young girl or nymph lying in the grass, Marvell opens the poem inside the Petrarchan locale, at the site of most intense vision, where Petrarch first met Laura, the place to which he would return both physically and mentally in order to re-enter the paradise of meeting her and the hope for her return:
Sometimes in form of nymph or other goddess arising from the clearest depths of Sorgue she comes to take her place upon the shore sometimes I've seen her there upon fresh grass. (281) (2)
Marvell's poem can be read as a witty but fairly simple extension of this Petrarchan story of love--a rendition of the story that describes a prepubescent girl's movement through the stages of naivete, chastity, refusal, wounding and then being wounded by love, told from the point of view of a young man who both fears the girl's future power and wishes her to experience a punishment for her future scorn.
Yet, there are two reasons to suspect that a witty extension of the Petrarchan tradition is not the only purpose of Marvell's poem. First, a series of terms in the poem has pointed contemporary relevance. Second, delicacy and tenderness were themselves being attached to particular contemporary factions, and tenderness, in particular, had become the focal point of a crucial conflict in 1646-47. (3) In this conflict, Presbyterians, Independents, and sectarians all wished to be understood to have tender consciences, that is, to be purified spiritually, beautiful, chaste, delicate, and sweet. The claim to the status of "tender" in the context of a struggle over who would hold military and political power and control civic and church discipline gave rise to suspicions on all sides that representations of tenderness merely provided a cloak for a future violent imposition of discipline. If Marvell wished to discuss the super-idealized, aestheticized vision that had become a crucial part of how various factions understood their own legitimacy and suspected others, it would make sense for him to use the Petrarchan literary tradition that focused on the subject of tenderness. Marvell's "Little T.C." is not merely a poem about young girls, or about Marvell's neighbor, Theophilia Cornewall, (4) but about another "T.C.," the figure of "tender conscience" that had begun to take hold over his contemporaries' imaginations.
Although the use of the term "tender conscience" extends from the early 1640s until after the Restoration, as traced by Paul H. Hardacre in "Sir Edward Hyde," I will be focusing on the use of it in the particular period from the summer of 1646 through 1647. It was in this period--when the question of whether or not a Scottish Presbyterianism was going to become the model for England--that the ownership of "tenderness" by Independents and sectarians was most vigorously challenged by Presbyterians. (5) After the end of the first Civil War, hopes of a compromise between King and parliament (and therefore the settlement of the kingdom) depended on an acceptance of some form of Presbyterianism. Independents' withdrawal from congregations threatened any potential settlement of the kingdom along Presbyterian lines. Independents insisted that Presbyterianism would harshly force the godly to conform to doctrines and practices not acceptable to all. Attempting to keep the Independents from separating out of congregations or out of the national church, Presbyterians strove to lay claim to the image of tenderness and sweetness. (6)
Competing claims to tenderness, beauty, innocence, and passivity are prevalent in the polemics of this period and can be seen vividly in some of the pamphlets connected to the occasions of Norwich guildhall sermons, presented at the election of new mayors. (7) As public events that brought together ministers, townspeople, and city magistrates, the Norwich guildhall sermons of 1646 and 1647 became occasions for rather blunt commentary about the controversies surrounding the delays in the settlement of the kingdom. Marvell would certainly have been familiar with the broader pamphlet controversy between Presbyterians and Independents, and it is likely that he would have been familiar with pamphlets arising out of significant political controversies in the most important city of East Anglia, Norwich, especially those associated with the election of a new mayor. Although we do not know precisely the date of Marvell's return from the Continent, we do know that he was in the neighboring county of Cambridgeshire in December of 1647 and may have been present in late 1646 in relation to the sale of some family land at Meldreth just north of Cambridge. (8) Aside from the pamphlets themselves being available in London as well as Norwich, the controversies surrounding the June 1647 sermon would have been a likely part of any local person's attempt to understand the quickly changing fluctuations of power between Army, Scottish Presbyterians, Parliament and King as first the Presbyterians, then the Army, took control of the King's person. In addition, Philip Nye, an Independent minister in Marvell's home town of Hull, played an active role in the pamphlet controversy between Independents and Presbyterians and is named as having stolen away papers that would have provided evidence of a broken covenant between Norwich Presbyterians and Independents (Vicars, Schismatic 17). Thus, it is likely that in addition to Marvell's familiarity with the broader discourse between Independents and Presbyterians, he would have been aware of the Norwich controversies.
By looking at self-representations and accusations in these pamphlets, we can gain access to the way Marvell reuses images to create a portrait of his contemporaries. "The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers" resignifies the claim to be delicate, sweet, passive, and tender and to harbor only "simplicity." The poem is part of the larger cultural project that James Loxley has described, in which civil war writers attempted to fend off or oppose polemical misnamings (111-18). "Little T.C." undertakes to undo the misnaming of "tender consciences" and uses all of its poetic resources to iconoclastically undermine that term's image of innocence and to reposition the audience in relation to it. The poem uses both the image of femininity and the figure of the chaste Diana that was associated with the Independents. The lyric also draws attention to other terms and images in the conflicts that were intensifying in 1646-47: the separation of pure from even more pure, the competing visions of a reformation of errors, a reformation that becomes tyrannical in a move to crush all opposition by means of a wheel with eyes, and the expectation that new violence will erupt. The poet combines the images that had been associated with Presbyterians, Independents, and sectarians, warning that those sectarians who claim tenderness will "spin" or be uncloaked to reveal a Presbyterian-like violent pose.
The poem opens hyperbolically with an image of an innocent young nymph who spends her days reclining in the grass. Prone, she gives off an effect of quasi-lassitude, not even active enough to be standing up:
See with what simplicity This nymph begins her golden days! In the green grass she loves to lie, And there with her fair aspect tames The wilder flowers, and gives them names: But only with the roses plays; And them does tell What colour best becomes them, and what smell. (Complete Poems lines 1-8) (9)
Both image and diction resemble the representation of the Independents. The Independent pamphlet Vox Populi (1646) strove to produce a description of the sectarians as passive, sweet, and tender. (10) The author claims that the sectarians are accused of being "sparks" when "alasse they are meerly passive, and act nothing, but desire to be let alone" (3). The pamphlet's depiction of the sectarians stresses their "simplicity" and tenderness: the author declares the "simplicity of their [the Independents'] heart ... for the truth is, Conscience is a tender thing" (2). They are a "people holy, harmelesse, peaceable" (3). They are not attempting to divide the kingdom or prevent a solution to the crisis of civil war; they are passive, simple, tender, godly.
The Independents' claim to innocence and tenderness gave rise to their opponents' mocking depiction of them as "females" (An Hue and Cry 25). The idiomatic expression "Diana"--often used to mean "idol"--is brought to life by the Presbyterian author of An Hue and Cry. Using the phrase "the great Diana of Independency," the author sarcastically captures the way Independents conceived of themselves as above the realm of mortals, god-like in their chastity (16). Like Diana as she bathes naked in a secluded spot, the Independents separate themselves into another realm, not to be violated by any creature less pure than themselves. Sometimes the phrase referred to the ideal of purity held by the Independents, sometimes to the Independents themselves, figuring them as the nymphs who worship that ideal; for example, "The great Diana of Independents, and all the sectaries so much cryed up by them in these distracted times, vi A Toleration, A Toleration" (A Letter 6). Thus, there was already current in the culture an image of the Independent as the chaste Diana or as a nymph of Diana, worshipper of chastity and purity. Much later, in The Rehearsal Transpros'd, Marvell shows that he was fully capable of imagining the disputant in an ecclesiastical controversy as a nymph or pastoral female character. He characterizes Bishop Parker as a "whining Amaryllis" (3), refers to him as "very maidenly" (4), and even imagines him as a flower, "the Pink of Courtesie" (6).
The Diana figure seemed especially apt as the issue of separatism intensified in 1646-47. Although Thomas Hill, member of the Westminster Assembly, was trying to prove that one could be spiritually separate or pure without physically withdrawing from the national church, he uses the same images of seclusion based on beauty, purity, and tenderness:
[...] spiritually separate yourself. Possibly your Callings and Relations may oblige you to civill converse with them, yet whilst you are constrained to stay amongst them, thinke, affect, speak, act as men of another spirit, maintaining an holy separation from their impurity. (The Right Separation 4)
[A soul is considered separate] the more the soule is conformed to the pure law of God, which is both our rule and beauty [....] Separate [...] not as one affecting a proud singularity, but as one who is necessitated to withdraw out of pure tendernesse of conscience. (The Right Separation 14, 22)
Hill uses the terms "simplicity" and "sweetness" to convey the particular quality of this rejection of others (23, 24, 35). In the first stanza of "Little T.C.," Marvell uses all of these images: a chaste nymph, tender and delicate, separate in her own realm, a figure of "simplicity" and beauty, harmlessly engaged in the work of beautifying, which is imagined as mere "playing" and so cannot be threatening.
Contemplating the nymph in her simplicity and innocence, the tone of the first stanza of Marvell's poem is exultant, full of wonder, admiring, yet the verb "begins" alerts us to a limit placed on the description: we are only at the beginning of a process. There is more to come. Like Marvell's undercurrent of irony in "Bermudas," even this first stanza, which purports to show the "golden days" of the nymph, has a troubling countersong. (11) Marvell's poem quickly reveals another side to this innocence. The tender "little" girl, giving the flowers names, has already a commanding, quasi-tyrannical presence. Although pastoral-like and passive, as she lies in the green grass, she is not entirely inactive. She not only gives names but also "tames" and tells others what to be and how to act: to the roses, she "does tell / What colour best becomes them, and what smell" (7-8).
Although such schemes of perfecting a garden are part of both the Golden Age eclogue tradition and the activities associated with the Petrarchan beloved, we must be alert to the altered resonance of such a topos in the civil war period. (12) In the contemporary context, the theme of "taming" cannot be taken as an unqualified, traditional topos of praise but rather raises the contentious question of whose discipline will be instituted and how the garden will be ordered. The association between activity in a garden and the ordering of the state was particularly powerful in mannerist gardens and the seventeenth-century English gardens and masques influenced by them (Strong 19 n.7, 87, 91-92). Like his choice of the theme of ordering or improving a garden, Marvell's choice to draw on the tradition of the messianic eclogue needs to be seen in the changing context of who in his own time was claiming to be ushering in a new age.
In 1646-47, both Independents and Presbyterians claim tenderness and both are accused of imposing their views violently on others as they work to reform the nation. According to the Independents, the Presbyters "engendered a tender conscience in others and now are grieving it in others" (Vox Populi 26). This accusation is clinched by a concisely expressed challenge: "do not you [Presbyterians] think they [Independents and sectarians] have a tender conscience as well as you?" (Vox Populi 26-27). But, according to the Presbyterians, the Independents are guilty of the same kind of harshness and disciplining of others. Sampson Townsend, in his 1646 pamphlet Truth Vindicated, explains that he joined the Norwich Independents but chose to leave them because they demanded that he adhere to their doctrines without being allowed to use his own independent judgment. Townsend accuses the Independents of "tyrannizing over the minds of others, obtruding their errors on [others] as truths, so putting their humour in the place of Gods law" (Sig. A2). To royalists, moderates, and Erastians who watched such maneuvers from outside either camp, the phenomenon may have felt like a deja-vu, as ministers who had striven to purify and reform the Laudian church in the late 1630s and early 1640s were then themselves accused of replacing tenderness with compulsion.
Both Presbyterians and Independents understood themselves to be sweet-smelling, pure, engaged in the struggle to maintain their own purity and to transform others. Like them, Marvell's nymph strives to remake the world into a more beautiful thing, taming that which is wild and making more perfect that which is already the essence of perfection, the rose. She separates the flowers into two groups: the wilder ones, which she strives to tame and to rename, and the roses, with which she chooses to play; even within this selective or more pure group, her play involves an immense imposition of her own views onto others. The odd detail of the nymph's first separating the flowers into wild ones to be tamed and renamed and then taking the tame ones to further direct them to a greater beauty, to be even more ideal, captures the situation in 1646. Nationally, those who had done the taming and renaming (calling the loyal royalists by the name of "malignants") now began to further distinguish levels of purity and struggle over the means of creating a new ideal "beauty" for the ones that they would "play" with.
Earlier royalist critiques of the tyranny of their opponents had also called attention to how the party in power understood itself to be delicate and pious, daring to cloak itself in the image of virtue or purity--a purity that, according to Royalists, misnamed or misknew itself. Jasper Mayne's sermon on false prophets argued that the men of the parliamentarian-Puritan party "disguise deadly Receipts in fragrant Smels and ... convey poison in a perfume, and cloathe Death in the Breath and Ayre of an Odoriferous Sent" (7). Mayne sees the religious radicals as falsely portraying themselves in "holy Colours" (8). Mildmay Fane characterizes the saints as lacking humility, canonizing themselves, being full of violence, and seeking glory (128). The bitterness of these objections is directed against those who wreak violence on others while seeing themselves as "babes of Grace," innocent, sweet-smelling, precious Saints.
Likewise, in the pamphlets arising from the conflict between Independents and Presbyterians in Norwich, Presbyterians respond with outrage to the claims of tenderness and innocence in Vox Populi. Accusing the Independents and sectarians of being "under a deceit of holiness," An Hue and Cry accuses them of "lack of peace, division" (7). The Independents do not seem tender or harmless to the Presbyterian ministers and government officials who are rebuked by them: "But are you so harmlesse and peaceable too, abusing Magistrates, reviling Ministers? [...] you are not such tame fooles as you would make your selves. [...] Is this the greatest crime you are guilty of, difference in judgement? No (Sir), we are not angry with you for this, it is your disturbing practice!" (An Hue and Cry 13). In their work to gather signatures for a petition to send up to London against the Presbyterians, the Independents have indeed been overactive, not passive. In their disingenuous representations to citizens to coax them to sign the petition, the Independents have actually been deceptive. The Presbyterians are outraged and link these local activities to other national arenas:
[...] poore tame creatures! They have a faire tongue but this is a foule falsehood: do you act nothing in the Assembly? Nothing in the Parliament? Nothing in the Armie? Nothing in London? Nothing in the Presse? Nothing in Norwich? [...] Machiavell never acted so much: yet they are tame creatures, if they might bee beleeved; and desire to bee let alone. Cut a mans throat and then fling away the knife [...]. (An Hue and Cry 15)
An Hue and Cry ends this tirade by a sneer of incredulity: "you are meerly passive" (16).
As can be seen from the argument between Vox Populi and An Hue and Cry, however "sweet," "tender," or "passive" the self-understanding of the Independents, the separation of the pure from the purer could not be understood by all parties as merely a peaceful withdrawal. The separation was felt to be an active divisiveness because it was a proactive attempt to change or reform the church and state. The sense of this activeness increased particularly in the summer of 1647, as the sectarians and Levellers tried to influence the Army and there was a threat that the Army, having captured the King (June 4, 1647) would be able to control the Parliament. The "tender" Independents had a vision of the future that conflicted sharply with both Presbyterians and Royalists; yet, they insisted on understanding themselves as harmless, inactive, merely asking to be left alone.
Marvell's portrait of the reformers--both Independents and Presbyterians--establishes that their image of themselves is a crucial part of who they are. So, we see the nymph, first, as she sees herself: the beautiful, innocent, lover of simplicity who wishes to transform the world around her into a beautiful counterpart to her own vision. Certainly the nymph who orders this garden is beautiful; she has a "fair aspect" if we read "aspect" as the "the look which one wears" or "the side or surface which fronts or is turned toward any given direction"(OED III.10; II.6). If by "aspect" we see her "mental looking, sight" or "a look, a glance" (OED I.1b and I.2), we understand that it is her "way of looking" that involves a taming and a molding of other creatures. The word "aspect" thus becomes closely linked to the "prospect" in the poem's title, a word that is also defined as a way of looking, with the additional connotation of a "mental looking forward ... or regard to something future" (OED II.8), a "mental vision, especially of something future or expected" (OED II.7). As James Turner has argued, "prospective and perspective" are words "almost invariably associated with the wide-ranging political survey" (42-3). Turner finds that "the word 'prospective,' in fact, could be used interchangeably for future options, distant views, telescopes, optical tricks, and painted landscapes" (5). Because a prospect involved a political model, a long-distance vision of the political future, "landscape came to be synonymous on the one hand with 'a definitive model,' on the other with 'a pernicious delusion'" (42). It is in this sense that Marvell's picture of a girl in a prospect of flowers should be understood. Marvell paints a portrait of a girl whose vision of the future involves only flowers, a golden age or paradisiacal future. This "Diana of Independency" contemplates an imagined future, the prospect opening out as in a walk through a garden to the next view, only glimpsed from here. Marvell's portrait is at one remove from her vision and so shows it to be a "pernicious delusion." In this way the poem itself is an optical trick: it shows the girl's dreamlike world and through irony, widens the frame to see beyond what the girl sees, giving an even wider "prospect." This prospect, unfurled in the following four stanzas, revises the nymph's own prospect of a beautiful future.
The irony of a portrait of a sweet creature who disciplines others, subdued in the first stanza, begins a crescendo as the poem proceeds into stanza 2. Now, the "tender conscience" begins to come out from under her cloak. The oppressively "taming" undersong of the pastoral idyll blossoms and inflates to become more visible and more threatening. The language of love and purity combines with a triumphant rise to power:
Who can foretell for what high cause This Darling of the Gods was born! Yet this is she whose chaster laws The wanton Love shall one day fear, And, under her command severe, See his bow broke and ensigns torn. Happy, who can Appease this virtuous enemy of man! (9-16)
Marvell captures the whole spirit of a Presbyterian reformer, as well as the Independents and sectarians as they, too, sought to legislate a new order. These are men who conceive of themselves as working for a "high cause" and who, especially after the parliamentary military victories, conceive of themselves as the ones who are God's beloved, "the Darling[s]" of God. The word "darling" calls attention to the self-conception of both the Presbyterians and of sectarians like the author of the pamphlet Vox Populi--their understanding of themselves as innocent and loved by God. The Presbyterian, John Vicars, likens the Presbyterians to the little children protected by Jesus, "innocent and peacable Little-ones of the Presbyterian party, his undoubted beloved ones" (Picture of Independency 15). The Presbyterian "Mr. B" is referred to in a letter collected by Thomas Edwards in his Gangraena as "a precious sweet man" (83). It is the self-love that becomes most prominent in Marvell's description and that he places under a skeptical gaze. By placing the phrase "high cause" inside the question, "Who can foretell for what high cause," the speaker casts doubt on the future-telling "prospect" in the title and stresses the open-ended nature of the political-military process of 1646-47. The difficulty of creating a political and a religious settlement made uncertainty more palpable: the parties who had won did not know exactly (and certainly did not agree on) what they had fought for. In the poem, their self-love is thus placed, syntactically, inside a larger sense of an uncertain future ("Who can foretell ...").
The speaker's skepticism is not noticed by the nymph who, in service to her "high cause," places others in fear with her "chaster laws" (11). The "Yet" that opens the third line intensifies the irony; for, even from the position of uncertainty, laws are invented and imposed with a severity that makes others "fear." Here is a young virgin who does not only say "no" to a lover but who is attempting to rout "Love" from the kingdom. Marvell characterizes the laws as "severe." He had also associated reforming and severity with the Presbyterians in his poem to Lovelace: "The barbed censurers begin to look / Like the grim consistory on thy book; / And on each line cast a reforming eye, Severer then the yong presbytery" (21-24). The term "Love" is appropriate not only because it captures the way that whole arenas of activity are organized by the reformers under the sexualized label of wantonness but also because in the coded language of opposition to the regime, the royalists conceived of themselves as lovers. The royalists imagined their field of activity--whether with women or in battle on behalf of the King--as the practice of love (Potter 101-2; Corns 4; Cousins 102). Cavaliers were stereotyped as full of lust but felt themselves to be loyal lovers. Again, we have to be attentive to the contemporary topical resonance of a Petrarchan topos, as the conventional chaste beloved who triumphs over the wanton lover now occurs in a context that has additional claimants to the images of "chaste" and "lover."
As we have seen in stanza 1, those in love with "simplicity" and chastity are people with a vision (or "prospect") of great beauty or innocence but whose actions strongly hint that their scheme of beauty will become an imposition on others. In stanza 2, Marvell predicted that the imposition would become tyrannical and severe. The severity of this moral reformation, which forbids whole arenas of activity, is finally triumphant by means of a military defeat as "Love" must "see his bow broke and ensigns torn" (14). The phrase "virtuous enemy of man" (16) therefore becomes perfectly apt: these are "virtuous" people (people who conceive of themselves as virtuous) who simultaneously engage in military conquest. They are the "enemy of man" with their "command severe" and "chaster laws" and, if one is not of their party, they must be "appease[d]": "Happy, who can / Appease this virtuous enemy of man!" (15-16). It is as if we can hear the self-portrayal of those of tender conscience as they rise to power--fighting for a "high cause," identifying themselves as the "Darling of the Gods," establishing by new laws a pure and chaste kingdom, defeating wantonness, full of virtue--but we see that portrayal from underneath, from the perspective of the defeated or the bystander who dreads defeat.
In the following stanza, the speaker is even farther underneath as he "praises" the conqueror in her glory. The stance of the speaker, by the end of the next stanza, is imaginatively or proleptically prone: in the dust, underneath the brilliant powerful chariot wheels.
O, then let me in time compound, And parley with those conquering eyes; Ere they have tried their force to wound, Ere, with their glancing wheels, they drive In triumph over hearts that strive, And them that yield but more despise. Let me be laid, Where I may see thy glories from some shade. (17-24)
The sense of an intensely fearful wish is produced by the startling change in sound in the stanza: after the harsh, driving rhythms, the last two lines--opening after the delay induced by the indented line--sound like a whisper. Only from the perspective of this stanza can one look back at the opening stanzas of the poem and understand that the voice of the speaker is issued under conditions of constraint, that he is compelled to praise rather than freely praising. While the poem begins in the present tense, it is clear by stanza 3 that the speaker already knows what will happen in the future, and the certainty with which he announces his desire to hide from the nymph's "force" strengthens the already-present sensation, in the first stanza, that the speaker is observing the nymph and reporting on her from an unseen, safe hiding place. The progress of the poem from stanzas 1-3, therefore, works as a gradual unfolding, or making more explicit, the position from which the first stanza is spoken. Again, the Petrarchan convention of spying on the beloved from a distance becomes transformed when contemporary contexts for hiding or constrained speech are present.
The terms that Marvell uses in stanza 3 strongly resonate with the contemporary political military context. "Compound" evokes the painful but only available strategies of appeasement during and after the first Civil War: "O then let me in time compound, / And parley with those conquering eyes" (17-18). As both Paul Hardacre and Robert Ashton have shown, the humiliation of the process of compounding was one of the sources of the second Civil War. (13) Royalists who were afraid that their property would be sequestered or whose property had been sequestered could compound for their estates by paying a heavy monetary fine. The opportunity to compound involved taking the covenant and later the Engagement oath, a kind of psychological subjection that, once agreed to, should have washed the former royalist clean. Yet even those who did "yield" in this way were still "despise[d]" and, as former enemies to the new regime, subjected to renewed assaults. Those men who "strive" and those who "yield" are both vulnerable to attack from this triumphant, virtuous force ("they drive / In triumph over hearts that strive, / And them that yield but more despise" [20-2]). No wonder Marvell's speaker wishes to "appease" this force and, at the end of the stanza, sends up his pitiful prayer: "Let me be laid, / Where I may see thy glories from some shade." He would prefer not to get too close to this kind of glory. Marvell takes the language of parliamentary-Puritan and army, speaking of its "glories," and asks to be allowed--if he is willing to call their triumphs "glories"--to be able to retire and watch the proceedings from some safe refuge, without participating, without ever having to go through the process of being conquered. Praise is the strategy that this speaker uses in order to remain safe. Thus, the irony in the poem, that famous Marvellian reserve, becomes expressive of the conditions for speech under the new regime: all speech must be praise; critique can happen only indirectly, sotto voce. (14)
Petrarch's image of a "glance" that can harm is quite markedly revised in this stanza. Petrarch frequently refers to Laura's eyes as suns and to the wound that is created by her eyes, but he almost invariably mentions tenderness simultaneously with this danger or harm: it is a "lovely quiet glance / wherein the rays of Love burn with such heat" (37); the "lightning of the eyes" is a "sweet greeting" (110); the "fatal light of her eyes ... show me so much sweetness" (141); the "sweet glance of hers can make me die" (179); eyes "strike" with "sweetness" (198); the "burning spirit within her eyes / a light that's sweetly cruel" (270); the "sweet, bitter look" (329). While Petrarch does write a few poems that only mention the anger of the eyes (38, 179, 197) or the "sun's burning wheels" (50), there is no question that in Petrarch it is the tenderness and sweetness of the eyes' glance that wound the speaker. Even in the moments when the speaker experiences refusal or scorn, it is the memory of the tenderness that carries the wound. In Marvell's lyric, however, the wound or the threat of harm arises only from violence, not from tenderness. The tenderness is never directed at the speaker but merely exists as a kind of picture of the nymph's posture as she lies in the grass. The tenderness of stanza 1 has been left far behind and the incipient violence of taming has become fully apparent.
The chariot wheels of the nymph's eyes in this stanza resemble an image of a wheel with eyes, used by the Norwich Presbyterian, John Carter, minister of St. Peter Mancroft, in a shocking election-day sermon of June 22, 1647. According to John T. Evans, Carter "lashed out at the magistrates with such embittered and astonishingly frank criticism that many an alderman must have winced" (167). Speaking on Galatians 4:16--"Am I therefore your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"--Carter boldly positions the magistrates as the enemies of Christ for their delays in instituting the Presbyterian form of government. Carter had already been involved in the earlier conflicts between Presbyterians and Independents and had been mentioned by name in Vox Populi as one whose machinations on behalf of the Presbyterian party in Norwich were in fact being set in motion by unnamed powerful men in London: "Mr Carter did alledge that they were advised by some great persons above, vix., from London to further this Petition or Remonstrance, and they had lately written unto them, why are your chariot wheels so long a comming?" (8). This section is set in bold and clearly marks Carter's connections to London as a particular affront. The chariot wheel was earlier used as a kind of code word for the Presbyterian program of reformation of church, state and citizens (Vicars Schismatic 22). After Vox Populi used the image, it gained the added resonance of an accusation that London Presbyterians are "behind" the local machinations of Presbyterians like Carter. By using the image of a wheel as the centerpiece of his public lecture to the citizens, ministers, and magistrates of Norwich, Carter was defending the national program to institute a conservative Presbyterian settlement of the kingdom.
The speech, published in June 1647 as The Wheel turned by a Voice from the Throne of Glory, appeared with the wheel as its frontispiece (Figure 1). Carter gathered associations for the wheel by the conference of two scriptural places: Proverbs 20:26 ("Scatter the Wicked, O let the great wheels turn over them") and Ezekiel's chariot. In Carter's sermon, the wheel from Proverbs, scattering the wicked, and as divine as Ezekiel's chariot, comes to stand in for the British kingdom as a set of interlocking wheels, all driven ultimately by God. In his own iconographical gloss on the image, Carter explains that the wheels are all "resonable creatures, as kingdoms, Common Wealths, Citys, Churches; which are societies of men; kings, Princes, Magistrates, chief Captains, Armies, Ministers, preachers of the Gospel, and all people in their several places: who ever hath any employment under God is a wheel in the chariot of his providence"(59). Using the wheel as the dominant conceit in his lecture, Carter vehemently decries the civil magistrates, who have delayed in reorganizing the church and paused in executing justice on sabbath-breakers, owners of ale-houses, and other transgressors:
Oh what hopes have we had of many Magistrates at their first coming on! In the beginning of their office how have the wheels rattled, how nimbly have they turned, how forward and active have they been in reforming abuses, and doing for the good of the City? But before their year hath come out, yea in a little time all our hopes have come to nothing. (100)
Any person or institution that stands in the way of this intensified discipline is excoriated:
Away, away with all unevenness: with all corners: every sin is as a corner, or a knob that will hinder the pleasant turning of the wheel, be round O Wheel! Be round: be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.... Then wellbeloved Christians, we are all wheels, and then we must also al conceive, that the Word is cryed to every one of us in particular, from the Throne of Glory, O wheel! To thee, and to me the Sonne of God cryes O wheel! Turn, turn! (98, 106)
The desire to reach all corners and to leaven any "knobs" threatens literally to flatten all opposition. To reinforce his message, following the custom of this occasion, Carter presents the mayor-elect with an escutcheon that the mayor should keep as a memorial in his office and which captures vividly the disciplinary function of the wheel as it omnisciently and divinely spies out sin and executes judgment upon it (Figure 1).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
The eyes belong to God, civil magistrates, ministers, and all in the commonwealth who are working for God's Providence to reform the kingdom. The eyes' placement on the wheels implies that, as soon as sin is spied out, it will be scattered or crushed. There should be no obstructions and no place to hide.
Marvell has taken this image of the violence implied by the Presbyterian goal of uniformity in religion and placed it in his poem as the eyes of his tender, delicate nymph. "Glancing wheels," wheels made out of eyes that ride over the prone speaker, make vivid the threat of Presbyterian conformity. Implied in the use of this image for the tender nymph is Marvell's critique of all claims to religious tenderness, whether Independent or Presbyterian, as both factions had laid claim to the chastity and tenderness that strove to reform others. The "tender" nymph of stanza 1, so like the Independents' representation of themselves as sweet and passive, now reveals another face, Presbyterian-like in its severe, violent chastity.
The language of stanza 4 confirms the case to be made for reading this entire lyric as referring not only to a young girl but to the contemporary conflict about those who sought to reform the kingdom. It is here that Marvell takes the Petrarchan topos of reforming the errors of youth and makes the Petrarchan language dovetail completely with the discourse of contemporary conflict, for it is impossible in 1646-47 to use the words "reform" and "errors" without producing the resonance of the contemporary attempt by Presbyterians to reform the errors of the kingdom. The tender nymph of both the eclogue tradition and the Petrarchan tradition who "improves" the "garden" has now her shadow figure--John Carter and his fiery sermon about completing the reformation of error in the English kingdom.
Marvell's syntactical structure ("Meantime, whilst....") for the stanza captures the way that in 1646-47 time felt bracketed by an unknown event--whether the return of the King or the end of negotiation with the King--that would provide a conclusion to this attempt at reformation:
Meantime, whilst every verdant thing Itself does at thy beauty charm, Reform the errors of the spring: Make that the tulips may have share Of sweetness, seeing they are fair; And roses of their thorns disarm: But most procure That violets may a longer age endure. (25-32)
The word "charm" often had a dangerous connotation in the Renaissance, hinting at a force that undermines autonomy and self-control, implying a kind of subjection against one's will (Milton almost always uses the word in this sense). Marvell pictures the world under its new regime of purification or "beauty." The "verdant thing" falls under some kind of enchantment and subjection while gazing at the beauty of this very powerful "virtuous" enemy. Marvell's depiction of a kind of self-defeat or putting oneself under the influence of this beauty to be charmed (the "verdant thing" charms itself) may in fact be his way of drawing attention to the way that the choice to compound was both a voluntary and involuntary subjection. Here the whole nation ("every verdant thing") appears to have put itself under the spell of the reformers, a kind of forced compliance but compliance nevertheless. Like Jasper Mayne, who wanted to let his hearers know that it is "in our power to dis-enchant the People" (28), the speaker of Marvell's poem considers that the charming will only be temporary (it occurs during a "meanwhile").
On one level, the stanza serves to mark the reformation of the garden/state as an unrealistic fantasy: tulips will not have sweetness (cannot be used, as other flowers, as a sugar), roses will not grow without thorns, and violets will be short-lived and will not endure. But, the stanza also serves to mock the particular faults of the reformers, both Presbyterian and Independents: those who look beautiful are not really sweet, those who are perfect are armed with thorns, and "especially," those who seem to be lowly have no humility.
In stanza 4, although the nymph is no longer seen as a frightening conqueror, there is something deeply disturbing about her activity. In the typical Golden Age eclogue, nature may be transformed but the spring is that which is celebrated and prolonged. In "Little T.C," however, that which is most beautiful and full of life--the spring--will now be called "error" and reformed. Like the other critiques, by royalists of radical puritans in general, by Presbyterians of Independents and sectarians, Marvell implies that this bringer of a Golden Age is reforming something that did not need reformation. To the extent that more orthodox puritans thought that the reformation was itself a "spring," a renewal or rebirth of religious purity, those who sought to cast that renewal into the position of needing a further reformation could be said to be unnecessarily or too violently reforming "the errors of the spring."
In 1645, the royalist Jasper Mayne had complained that his opponents "see those spots and blemishes in our Church which no good Protestants else could ever see" (17). In 1646, the author of A Just Apologie for an Abused Armie considers the work of the army to be "driving away the darkness of errour" and the "suppressing of errour" (12-13). The "errors" that were allegedly being reformed seemed non-existent to the opposition. The reformers were accused of attempting to correct errors where there were none. The term "reformation," and particularly reformation of errors, had thus steadily acquired a pejorative connotation for some factions. The term became affixed to the tyrannical Parliament that had allegedly abused the laws as it sought to reform the kingdom, (15) then to the Scots Presbyters who wished to reform the relationship between church and state along Presbyterian lines, and then it began to be applied by some to the Independents, who wished to reform the reformers. As so many terms in this period, "reform" was taken out of the mouths of its first users and became a polemical term, designed to mock or insult. For Marchamont Nedham in The Case of the Kingdom Stated, "reformation" is the word that Scots Presbyters use in their attempt to impose their new means of gaining wealth and power over Englishmen (19). Thomas Stanley mocks the term in his poem, "Upon the Reformation of the Times" (300). Clement Walker "pray[s] to God to reforme our Reformers," where "Reformers" refers to both the Presbyters and the Independents (Mystery of Two Juntos 20). However naked and innocent she might present herself, the chaste and delicate "Diana" of the Independents was understood by others to be aiming to reform the errors of the kingdom with a severity not unlike the severity of the Presbyterians.
Again in stanza 5, we see Marvell revising the Petrarchan topos towards the contemporary context. In Petrarch, the green grass and the flowers were located in a wood, and only rarely does Petrarch contrast a dangerous woods to the grassy place, site of love and youth. The British garden, modeled of course on continental gardens, was structured by the movement from order and formal gardens (close to the house) to wilderness and disorder (past the formal and then the less formal gardens, then to orchards, and finally into the woods). In the opening of stanza 5, the speaker relocates the nymph in a more dangerous place as he readdresses her:
But, O young beauty of the woods, Whom Nature courts with fruits and flowers, Gather the flowers, but spare the buds; Lest Flora angry at thy crime, To kill her infants in their prime, Do quickly make the example yours; And, ere we see, Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee. (33-40)
The shift in locale to a more dangerous arena does not occur by any movement of the nymph but by a shift in perspective: the "prospect" of flowers and the work of reformation (in stanzas 1-4) that strove to bring that prospect into being has resulted in the new, dangerous situation. In reading stanza 5, critics sometimes assume that it is the girl's falling away, her potentially falling into sin by not remaining chaste, that impels the turn or warning at the end of the poem, but her actions have not changed. She is consistently reforming the spring. It is only that stanza 5 allows us retrospectively to see that the work of reforming the flowers is actually a cutting or destruction of flowers. The reforming of the flowers is now shown to have been a "gathering" of them, something Marvell defines as opposite to "sparing" them. Stanza 5 is not only a warning about the future but a more explicit redescription of the present "gardening" (reforming) activity, a coming out from underneath the cloak of beauty to reveal, explicitly, the violence of a reformation that wishes to make everyone as "beautiful" as the religious reformer.
Meanwhile, Nature is courting the "virtuous enemy of man"; their victories have given the reformers the sense that the world favors them. But the poem ends with a warning, that someone will come to reform them, make them an example; discipline will be turned against the reformers themselves. Thus, again, Marvell revises Petrarch, recontextualizing the poem in a British understanding of Flora. While the associations of Flora in Renaissance painting fluctuated between chaste lover and prostitute (Held 208), in the seventeenth-century British context Flora had become associated with the monarch who rules the garden. As Roy Strong has argued, the Renaissance monarch "developed the garden as a vehicle for princely magnificence and royal apotheosis," and gardens gave a strong sense of the presence of the owner of the garden, even without the owner's physical presence (19 n.7). Flora, the queen of shepherds, had long been associated with royalty, from Spenser's Eliza in "The Shepheardes Calender" to Queen Henrietta Maria's playing queen of the shepherds in Walter Montagu's Shepherd's Paradise in 1633. Strong argues that "In the court masques, Henrietta Maria appears again and again in what might be described as almost horticultural terms, as a springtime goddess who brings peace after storms and with that the flowering of a garden" (187). In Marvell's poem, Flora returns with a distinctly more martial task.
The speaker who needed to appease the conqueror in stanza 2 and who imagined himself as underneath the wheels of the conqueror's chariot in stanza 3 now warns of a retribution coming from the return of a royal figure. With his closing couplet, "And, ere we see, / Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee," the speaker warns that the retribution will take place before any of the much-hoped-for transformation of the country into a beautiful, paradisiacal garden. Marvell ends with wording that resembles a 1647 ballad mocking the Presbyter:
Alack, Alack and well aday, Jack Presbyter is dead, And all our hopes with griefe we say are wrapt with him in Lead. (italics mine; Colville 6).
The phrase is also used by the author of Vox Populi, who saw "the utter quashing of our refreshing hopes" (16). Unlike the author of Vox Populi, who is referring to the hopes of the sectarians alone, the speaker of Marvell's poem seems to have a wider sense of "our," the "our" of a country that had hoped the end of the war would mean the settlement of the kingdom and peace but was now fearing the prospect of a new outbreak of hostilities between parties, all of whom considered themselves to be innocent and good. (16)
The foregoing interpretation of "The Picture of Little T.C. in a Prospect of Flowers" places Marvell's poem in the tradition described by James V. Mirollo, who has alerted us to those poetic works that modify Petrarchan resources "in the interest of gaining and conveying perceptions and insights not otherwise available or reproducible" (Mannerism 121). Mirollo has declared that "the problem of how to take it" (Mannerism 46) is itself a typical feature of mannerist art, so that the problem of deciding whether Marvell's poem is merely "about" a young girl or "about" the dangerous claim to tenderness of political factions becomes a recognizable feature of mannerism. Of course, there is no certain way that one can make a determination about reversing tenor and vehicle in an extended conceit; but, placing Marvell's poem in the context of polemical writings of 1646-47 makes it likely that the alternate reading--taking the nymph as a representation of the Independents--was at least available.
To the extent that the project of mannerism involved working out a "new standard of ... grace and idealized beauty of form" (Shearman 53), it became a site for reflecting on the idea of beauty and tenderness. My purpose here in referring to the scholarship on mannerism is not to label Marvell a mannerist, nor to identify particular "mannerist" techniques in his work, nor to point to particular psychological states that have been associated with mannerism. (17) Rather, I am interested in the way that Marvell uses and resignifies particular features of mannerism to enable him to draw a vivid, dynamic portrait of his contemporaries and his own complex relationship to them. Certain contributions to the debate on the relationship between literary and visual mannerism can be enormously productive in allowing us to visualize both the structural and thematic complexity of Marvell's poem.
Mannerist poetry took advantage of particular ambiguities in Petrarch's Canzoniere; for example, later poets took the instability between the natural and the spiritual Laura and produced a wavering between a nymph/goddess and an eroticized naked girl (Mirollo Mannerism 165). Marvell not only has a "nymph" who can double as a naked, eroticized prepubescent girl but he also resignifies or reanimates the wavering between the "natural" girl and the more idealized figure, the "nymph" who is both like a goddess herself and also the beloved "darling of the gods." This wavering becomes productive for Marvell as it enables him to represent the seventeenth-century saints' problematic fluctuation between human and godlike as they conceived themselves to be either the darlings of God or His agents. Marvell can thus represent Independents who "appropriate to themselves the name of the godly and well-affected party, the title of Saints, calling themselves the Saints" (Edwards 63). There is another kind of ambiguity or wavering in Petrarch's representation of Laura that Marvell resignified. Laura turns back and forth from tenderness to the Medusa, from the one who can liberate, uplift, and console to the one who can freeze or grievously injure the lover with her scorn. This revolution from tenderness to violence also becomes productive for Marvell as it enables him to represent the fluctuation between tenderness and violence by the religious factions of his time.
Second, in addition to these ambiguities or waverings in Petrarch that Marvell could resignify for his own purposes, there were certain features of mannerism in visual art that became productive for Marvell in this poem. David Summers has demonstrated how mannerist artists deployed the figura serpentinata, the double contrapposto, in which various parts of the body were turned in opposing directions in a kind of double twist. Summers shows how this armature for the human figure was taken in different expressive directions, with, for example, Leonardo using the figure to convey gracefulness, complete aesthetic resolution, and self-containedness, while Michelangelo used it to convey force and energy (287-92). Other scholars have written about the way that some mannerist sculpture had a twisting movement that demanded a viewer to keep revolving around the figure in order to view it from different perspectives (Shearman 86-91; Figure 2). Figure 2. Giambologna, Rape of the Sabine Woman
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Marvell's poem, as it moves from stanza to stanza, reproduces and resignifies this twisting movement.
Each stanza presents an image of the nymph, but because Marvell's syntactical structure delays the entrance of the subject of the sentence, each stanza opens not with the nymph but with a kind of wind-up or lead-in to the image of the nymph. Each stanza builds up only gradually to the complete view of a pose of the nymph, so that the nymph is uncovered or revealed or surprises us in her various postures. And each time, as we move through this wind-up, we encounter the nymph in her new pose on a different scale so that the figure seems to inflate and deflate, swell and contract as we move through the poem. In the sequence, we meet a young girl lying in the grass who swells to become the victorious general of an army commanding and breaking her upright adversary, then, even more grandiosely inflated, a triumphant charioteer driving over the body of a prone foe, then shrunken to merely a girl who towers only over flowers, and, finally, further diminished as she is humiliated by the regal goddess figure Flora in the final stanza. The speaker, too, moves through an equal and opposite deflation and inflation. At first, the speaker is out of view, looking on from an unknown, unspecified locale. Later, the "I" is precipitated, positioned more precisely, and we come to understand from where the voice issues: from underneath the driving chariot wheels. In the final stanza, the speaker emerges with full power, pronouncing retribution on the nymph from some celestial locale that can predict the future of girl and garden. The vertiginous effect, a voice wrapped up in itself that seems later to explode or intrude more forcefully, enacts, on the level of fantasy, the movement into and out of forced praise and constrained speech. Like the artists reviewed by Summers, Marvell uses the twisting form for his own expressive purpose: in this case to represent the kind of inflation and deflation, covering and uncovering, of parties who were aggrandized and then diminished and whose purposes were hidden and then suddenly revealed in the first Civil War and its immediate aftermath.
Marvell has portrayed a beautiful nymph with great delicacy, but I suggest that the tenderness of this nymph is due to the self-conception of the reformers: "So tender and delicate their Consciences; That they are capable of any Offence against their Neighbour, without breach of Justice or Charity" (Walker, The High Court 8). Like the author of this pamphlet, Marvell sarcastically draws attention to the reformers' self-conception. He depicts the reformers from inside their own point of view--delicate lovers of simplicity, "little" in their supposed humility, reformers of errors, chaste banishers of wantonness, shapers of the new beautiful England as sweet-smelling garden--but in so doing he shows the tyrannical, violent, self-deluded, self-loving "aspect" of trying to put in place that "prospect of flowers." As the godly Presbyterians seemed to transform themselves into oppressive disciplinarians, so, too, would the self-proclaimed "tender" Independents show themselves to be tyrannical. Little T.C. conceives of herself as a chaste child of nature and of the gods but ultimately wreaks violence on nature and on others until she brings retribution on herself. Far from being in love with a nymphet, (18) Marvell spies on her self-proclaimed innocence from his own hidden corner of the garden, filled with fantasies of a retribution that will sweep her away.
(1) See Joseph H. Summers's "Marvell's Nature" (ELH 20 : 121-35); Harold E. Toliver's Marvell's Ironic Vision (New Haven: Yale UP, 1965) 167-71; David Friedman's Marvell's Pastoral Art (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970) 175-79; Bruce King's Marvell's Allegorical Poetry (New York: Oleander Press, 1977) 101-109; Margarita Stoker's Apocalyptic Marvell (Athens: Ohio UP, 1986) 134-6; Thomas Wheeler's Andrew Marvell Revisited (New York: Macmillan, 1996) 85-87; and Susan Snyder's Pastoral Process: Spenser, Marvell, Milton (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998) 152. These critics have been unanimous in pitching the primary level of meaning of "Little T.C." to be the sexual chastity of a young girl, or, allegorically, the spiritual power of that chastity to transform nature. John Rogers and Victoria Silver offer the only extended political readings that I have found. Silver, in "The Obscure Script of Regicide: Ambivalence and Little Girls in Marvell's Pastorals," links the violence in Marvell's pastorals to the nostalgic desire for the erotics of a life in an edenic royal "garden" in England that has already been made impossible by the execution of Charles but that has not therefore been abandoned as desire (ELH 68 (2001): 29-55). Rogers reads "Little T.C." as part of the poet's struggle to carve out the options for self-definition and for action in mid-century British culture. My view of Marvell's attitude to the "virginity" in the poem, however, is diametrically opposed to Rogers, who claims that T.C.'s virginity establishes the potential efficacy of a passive power of reformation; she needs to do "no more than 'lie in the green Grass' to effect nature's gradual return to its unfallen state" (244). See also Rogers's Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996) 80-102.
(2) Petrarch, poem 281. For other poems that show Laura seated on the grass, see poems numbered 100, 111, 125, 126, 129. Subsequent references to Petrarch will use poem numbers rather than page numbers.
(3) Because most of Marvell's lyrics were published after his death in 1681 and did not circulate in manuscript, they are unable to be dated with any certainty. I am placing the poem in the period 1646-47 because its themes, word choice, and images draw on and resignify the conflict about tenderness that intensified in 1646-47 and the image of a wheel with eyes crushing its opponents that appeared in June 1647. I see the poem as engaged with this contemporary debate about tenderness and religious violence. Although the phrase "tender conscience" continued to be used after this period, its meaning changes in such a way that it would no longer be relevant to the sequence of thought and image in "Picture of Little T.C." In 1649-51, the term "tender conscience" began to be used to describe those whose scruples led them to condemn the execution of the king and to reject the oath of Engagement to the new regime. Furthermore, after 1649, it would be unlikely for Marvell to describe the country as "charmed" by the reformers. See, for example, Woolrych's comment about "the sheer chill weight of hostility which [the Rump] encountered in the county communities," (7) and David Underdown's Fire from Heaven (New Haven: Yale UP, 1992) 213-14.
(4) Margoliouth suggested that the initials "T.C." stood for Theophilia Cornewall, who was a daughter of friends of Marvell's family (359-60).
(5) The imprecision of the labels "Independent," "sectarian," and "Presbyterian" cannot be entirely avoided for reasons articulated by J.H. Hexter in his description of the period:
We pass from a situation in which it is hard for us to identify where a member of parliament stood politically to one in which it was hard for a member to identify where other members stood, and end in one in which from day to day a member might be puzzled to say where he stood. When political landmarks vanish, men become disoriented; and the perplexity is the investigator's lot in part because it is the lot of the investigated. (136)
(6) See Torchioructa: or, Independents Razing Their Own Foundation. By Which All (But That Will Not Shut Their Eyes) May See Deep Iniquities, Long V eiled Under Pretence of Conscience, Clearly Discovered ... (Printed for Tho. Underhill, 1646. Thomason E328.23. Wing T1758) 1, Edwards 57-61, and Vicars, Schismatick 16.
(7) Vox Populi, An Hue and Cry after Vox Populi, and Sampson Townsend's Truth Vindicated from the Unjust Accusations of the Independent Society in the City of Norwich. For an historical account of this period in Norwich and for the relationship between Norwich politics and national politics, see Evans (154-70). According to Evans, "Norwich politics in many respects ran parallel to and indeed were associated with those of London" (157).
(8) For biographical information about Marvell during these years, see David Norbrook's Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics, 1627-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999) 168.
(9) This and subsequent quotations from Marvell are taken from the Donno edition and cited by line numbers parenthetically in the text.
(10) Vox Populi has previously been attributed to William Walwyn; for an argument against that attribution, see Jack R. McMichael and Barbara Taft's The Writings of William Walwyn (Athens: U of Georgia P, 1989) 529-30.
(11) For readings of "Bermudas" that interpret against the grain, yielding an anti-Parliamentarian critique, see R. M. Cummings's "The Difficulty of Marvell's 'Bermudas'" (Modern Philology 67 : 97-104) and Philip Brockbank's "The Politics of Paradise: 'Bermudas'" (Approaches to Marvell. Ed. C. A. Patrides. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978. 174-93).
(12) Patrick Cullen has demonstrated the use of the tradition of the golden-age eclogue in "Little T.C." in his "Imitation and Metamorphosis: The Golden-Age Eclogue in Spenser, Milton, and Marvell" (PMLA 84 : 1559-70).
(13) See Robert Ashton's Counter-Revolution: The Second Civil War and its Origins, 1646-48 (New Haven: Yale UP, 1994) 48-56. According to Paul Hardacre, "the numerous post-war violations of surrender articles constituted the most damning indictment of the commonwealth" (The Royalists 71).
(14) Edwards describes the Independents' using every occasion to "trumpet forth their praises" and call their own actions "glorious" (62) while seeking to eliminate any opposition (67).
(15) See Ashton (note 13) regarding the Parliament's abuse of power and resistance to it. Ashton has shown that free quarter, the excise tax, abuses by county committees, disenfranchisement from offices and livings, intrusion of less-educated parsons, and a frequent disregard for legal process caused the royalists and many neutrals to judge the Long Parliament to be a tyrannical government that consistently abused its power.
(16) Both Presbyterians and Independents accused each other of moving toward a new outbreak of war. "Rigid episcopacy brought about the wars before, [and] rigid Presbytery will do the like the second time," claims the author of Vox Populi. Sampson Townsend claims that the Independents are likely to bring on a new war: "Doe not their very speech bewray, that they would be glad, if there were sufficient matter of charge against [the Scots], to occasion falling with violence upon them? (20).
(17) See Rosemond Tuve's "Baroque and Mannerist Milton" (Milton Studies in Honor of Harris Francis Fletcher. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1961) and John M. Steadman's Redefining a Period Style: "Renaissance," "Mannerist," and "Baroque" in Literature (Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1990) regarding caveats about the transference of categories from visual art to literature. Although we may be skeptical of the attempt to identify a similar underlying psychological or cultural motive for all artists who use mannerist techniques, like David Summers, we can still find it productive to study the variety of uses to which techniques have been put. In addition, some previous scholars who may have been too general in speculating about motives have still contributed exceedingly apt descriptions of Marvell's poems. See, for example, Martz's description of Marvell's style in his religious poems, noting his use of "the pastoral artifice to contemplate, at a considerable distance, a possible religious issue"(158), the "undercurrent of playful wit" (160), a style that is "cooly contrived" (162), an extraordinary aesthetic refinement. While Martz depends on Hauser's assertion that these features of mannerism ultimately express a general philosophy of life (acknowledgment of uncertainty, ambiguity, avoidance of oversimplification), I am arguing that Marvell's skepticism about the claim to simplicity, innocence, tenderness, beauty has a particular relevance in 1646-47. See Murray Roston's "Herbert and Mannerism: (John Donne Journal 5 : 134-67), Roy Daniells's "The Mannerist Element in English Literature" (University of Toronto Quarterly 36 : 1-11), and Martin Elsky's "La Carona: Spatiality and Mannerist Painting" (Modern Language Studies 13 : 3-11) for other discussions of the way that literary artists used visual technique--plays of perspective, the elasticity of space, juxtaposition of distinct secular and sacred spaces, techniques of directing and surprising the viewer. See James V. Mirollo's "Mannerist and Baroque" for a discussion of the cultural lag that "produced such facts as the simultaneous reception of Italian artists and writers whose work and careers were widely separated in time and styles; for example both Petrarch and Marino, both the cinquecento Petrarchists and the seicento Marinisti, especially in England and Germany but also in France and Spain" (321) so that mannerism is "a stylistic option rather than a cultural syndrome tied to strict chronological limits" (326). "Mannerist style would therefore persist as a known and available alternative even after it had been superseded in general favor by another style" (327).
(18) The term "nymphet" is taken from William Kerrigan's "Marvell and Nymphets" (Greyfriar 27 : 3-21).
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PEGGY SAMUELS is Associate Professor of English Literature at Drew University. Her publications have focused on John Milton. Most recently, she has written on the relationship between thematic strands in Paradise Lost and seventeenth-century Hebrew dictionaries that strove to "open" Hebrew words to reveal their multiple meanings.
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|Publication:||Papers on Language & Literature|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2003|
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